2007-09-14 / Columnists

Spotlight on Elderlaw

For Women Only
Commentary By Nancy J. Brady, RN, Esq. And Linda Faith Marshak, Esq.

In our practice, we meet with women at various stages in their lives to develop plans in the event of their illness, or death. While most of our clients are elderly, many younger women develop plans to make provisions for their young families in the event of unforeseen life events. As part of our consultation we review in detail our clients' finances - both assets and income- in order to develop their planning needs.

In many cases we see women who have done little or no planning for their futures. These women, unfortunately, may have to spend their senior years with a lower standard of living, because they failed to plan for their financial futures in advance.

Women, in particular, need to learn to make their own financial decisions to ensure financial security for their advancing years. Statistics tell us that women have a longer life expectancy than men, women on average earn less than men, most women have shorter careers than men, due to demands of caring for young children or elderly parents, and most women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in life (for example, due to divorce or outliving a spouse).

Finances aren't the only issues women must consider when developing their plans, however. Legal planning in advance of incapacity or death can result in significantly less expense, greater privacy and convenience for your loved ones. The proper legal documents will allow you to appoint a representative (or representatives) to act for you during your lifetime to make financial and medical decisions in the event you are unable to do so. Additionally, whether you are married or single, the appropriate legal documents prepared in advance will allow you to make decisions regarding who will care for your children and manage their assets. If you have no children, you should have documents in place to ensure your wishes are carried out, so that the people you choose inherit from you, rather than letting state law decide for you.

Women have many roles during their lifetimes, daughter, aunt, wife, friend, sister, daughter-in-law, grandmother and some even great-grandmother. In many of those roles the woman is a caretaker. As a caretaker in these many roles, it is important to assist loved ones to have the proper documents in place so that the caretaker can carry out her role without financial hardship or interference from others. It is therefore important for the woman in her role as caretaker, in addition to making sure her own financial plans and legal documents are in place, to assist her loved ones to have their own plans in place as well.

We are planning seminars to address these concerns, "For Women Only." Please contact our office if you are interested in attending, at 718- 945-7777.

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